Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Healing Words

Being at home during the pandemic is not too bad. My motivation to avoid catching it could not be higher. We can order our groceries online through Weaver Street Market, our local health food coop, and pick them up curbside at the appointed time. If need be, I can see my doctor through telemedicine. My dentist observed strict safety protocols including being interviewed the day before for symptoms, swishing with some sort of disinfectant the moment I climbed into the dental chair, having my teeth cleaned with a hygienist wearing a face screen. I felt safe. I even ordered some new Teva sandals online, picked them up curbside with a 30 day window for return if they didn’t fit. They did. I love them. Everything else happens on Zoom and gives a bit of social time with friends.

Protecting myself from the onslaught of horrifying and enraging news is not so easy. I value being an informed citizen. I know it’s not healthy to pay too much attention to things I have no influence over, but it seems they are everywhere and overwhelming. From time to time I express myself on a particular issue by calling the offices of my representatives in the US House and Senate. At least this is something I can do.

But I found myself lying awake at 3 am too often worrying. Worrying about the US Postal Service which needs to handle the great numbers of mail-in ballots sure to come. Worrying about the lack of national leadership which could have made this pandemic a much different story in the US. Worrying about how many of my fellow citizens will die before it’s all over. Worrying it will never be over. Worrying about the election. Worrying about how many people will believe Trump’s lies and vote for him. Worrying about the fate of our democracy.

After one too many of these sleepless nights, I decided to consult my doctor. Via telemedicine, she reviewed all the aspects of good sleep hygiene, most of which I know and practice. She gave me a prescription to try. I did, and it helps.

Then in my daily meditation, I began to reflect on ways to uplift my spirits. Years ago when I was in clinical practice, I became fascinated with psychoneuroimmunology, the mind-body connection. I read a lot, attended workshops, studied hypnosis and used it successfully with my psychotherapy clients. I became clear I wanted to take a bit of a break from the news and read something uplifting. On my shelf, I found a book I couldn’t remember reading that might help. It’s an old book, 1993, but fascinating. It’s Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine by Larry Dossey, MD. He’s an internal medicine physician and a leader in the inquiry into mind-body healing. Who knew there was so much scientific research on the healing power of prayer? He defines prayer more broadly, more like what we Quakers call “holding someone in the Light.” Reading it was slow going because he described the research in detail, and I’m not used to reading scientific research these days, but it resonated with me, both stimulated and soothed me.

It left me with a thought I hold close to my heart: there are greater forces working in the world than what comes out of the White House. Yes, there are. Thank goodness.

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2 Responses to Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Healing Words

  1. Oh, Alice, I totally agree. Thankfully, there are greater forces at work than what comes out of the White House. In fact, I think there is a Wisdom in the Universe that is using what comes out as a way to help us see other, more compassionate, ways of being in the world together. There are lessons galore for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. I read Larry Dossey’s book years ago. I hope it helps you get back to sleep when you wake up worrying at 3 am. We are not alone in this and no matter what happens, we can face it and grow from it. I do believe that and we need to support each other in the process. We can’t do it alone. I love your Quaker phrase “Holding you in the light.” I’ll be holding you.

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